, MOGADISHU, Jul 22 – Islamist rebels in Somalia said on Friday that an earlier ban on specific aid agencies operating in the drought-struck regions they control remains in place, rejecting UN declarations of famine.
“Those earlier banned groups are not welcome to serve in our area of control,” Shebab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said in a broadcast on the Islamist radio Al Furqaan radio.
The Al-Qaeda inspired rebels since 2009 banned several aid agencies including the UN World Food Programme, although the agency has continued to send relief to other parts of the country out of rebel control.
The hardline rebels also dismissed the declaration made by the UN earlier this week that there is famine in two regions of southern Somalia under rebel control.
“There is drought in Somalia but not famine — what is declared by the UN is 100 percent false,” Rage said.
“The declaration of famine is political, and is a lie with hidden agendas,” he added, addmitting only that there is “a shortage of rain.”
The Shebab appealed for help earlier this month, saying it would lift a two-year-old ban on foreign aid groups so they could help Somalis suffering from a severe drought.
A Shebab official earlier this week had welcomed the famine declaration.